Shorter men at higher risk of dying from dementia


It is claimed that shorter people are at 50% higher risk of dying from dementia, with men being at most risk.

Experts state that being short will not cause dementia, but it could be a marker for poor nutrition during childhood or other factors which may have affected growth. These factors have already been connected to a higher risk of heart ailments among people of short stature.

The leader of the study, Dr Tom Russ, said they found that shorter adult height was linked to an increased risk of dementia death, and the association was higher in males.

Researchers at the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre at Edinburgh University undertook analysis of data from 18 studies involving 182000 participants between 1994 and 2008. The study involved the collection of information, such as health history and social status, as well as the height of the participants.

After a ten-year follow-up, 17553 deaths had occurred, with 1093 stating dementia as the cause of death.

The study discovered that the risk of death from dementia was 50% higher among the shortest men, compared to the tallest.

They stated that for every three inches of reduced height among the participants, there was a 24% increase in risk.

Among females, the risk of death from dementia was 35% higher among the shortest. For each 2.5in height reduction, the risk increased by 13%.

Dr David Batty, the senior author from the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health at University College London, said being short does not ‘cause’ dementia. He said it is that height can be affected by a range of early life factors, including poor nutrition, adversity, psychosocial stress and early-life illness, and the effect of these issues on dementia have been closely examined during this study.

A professor of human genetics at the University of Exeter’s Medical School, Tim Frayling, said the authors are not claiming that a person’s height has a direct impact on their risk of dementia. He said they are claiming the less controversial and more subtle idea that height acts as a marker of factors during early life which could predict potential death from dementia.

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